Employee hiring assistant without company or supervisor's explicit consent - when is it ok?

Fantasy speculation - not a request for legal advice.

A while back, I was hired at a company that made me sign a document saying that I would do all the assigned work myself, without hiring an assistant.

If they thought to include the clause, does that mean that there is a general right for an employee to hire an assistant and pay them out of pocket unless there is an explicit policy (such as a “no private assistants” policy or a general NDA that says you can’t disclose work related info, which whould mean that your assistant can’t help you with much of your work since you would need to disclose company confidential info to them).

In my area (of the US), there are a lot of legal immigrants and down-on-their-luck citizens who would probably love to work for me for a few hours a week bringing me refreshments, doing the “grunt” portions of my job such as installing software or writing up mindless process documents, and otherwise being at my beck and call, and I could probably afford to give them a part time job at minimum wage, considering what I make. <jest>I could hire some local 18 year old single-mom high school dropout to wear a french maid outfit and stand in my cube and make her bring me coffee every half hour and call me “master”. </jest>

Note that I’m not talking about company-hired assistants where the assistant is paid out of the same budget you are and is an allowable expense - I’m talking about taking part of your salary and hiring someone else to do the parts of your job that you don’t care to do and that you think the other person can do without driving down your performance metrics.

at its core, what you are talking about is a delegation of your contractual rights to your employer to a 3rd party (your employee).

typically, contracts cannot be delegated without the other party’s consent (here called the obligee) if it will change that party’s economic calculus/expectations.

in an employment scenario where a company has hired a specific person to do specific tasks, it is almost prima facie that delegating a 3rd party to perform those tasks would transform the employer’s expectations. so no go, imho.

aargh. contractual duty. not contractual right.

mea culpa.

Many employees are bonded by the company for various liability issues. If your off-the-books employee stole something, or fell down and hurt himself, who would be liable? I would guess the company would certainly be sued for not noticing that he was there, at the least. There would be all sorts of problems with this. Do you guys undergo any screening? Why would they let someone who didn’t go through it have access to their computer systems needed to install things?

I don’t remember ever signing such a thing, but trying to hire an assistant in this way would break so many of the things I did sign it would be a no0brainer - and something you’d get fired for in two seconds flat.

You’re not wrong with this statement but it gets even worse.

There has always been a problem with a person who is an employee of the company versus a person who is an outside contractor.

Different states in the USA have different laws regarding this and you can’t simply sign a document saying “you’re not an employee but an outside contractor” and that is that. Courts have ruled in some cases even though people sign such agreements, they are invalid and the person IS IN FACT and employee.

This causes problems, as you can imagine, for employers, 'cause they can be back sued for back benefits.

Just because something is in a contract doesn’t make it enforceable. You can’t contact for anything that is unlawful, so in particular areas, companies have to be careful. Of course some 'causes like that ARE in enforceable, it depends on the individual case and state law.

I’ve worked in H/R and often, when you get “odd clauses” such as the OP noticed, it is the company just has everyone sign the same thing. Even though they know darn well the clause is unenforceable.

I worked for a company that said “Express written authorization for overtime must be approved before working. Any overtime worked without prior express written authorization, will not be paid out.”

This is an example of a totally unenforceable clause, but it’s still there. They have to pay you for overtime worked, regardless if approved or not. Of course they can write you up or even fire you for working unauthorized overtime, but they have to pay you.

The company hopes that by putting such things in they will frighten employees into doing the right thing.

Yes, the famous Microsoft case.
I’ve hired contractors long before this case, and we only hired from reputable agencies with insurance and bonding. At one time another manager wanted to hire an individual as a contractor, and he had to jump through all sorts of hoops to make it happen, including setting up a company. The number of contractors is a lot lower after Microsoft, and there are now rules about hiring or firing after a certain period.

However, it sounds like the situation the OP mentions isn’t nearly as formal as an actual contracting job. When my daughter did pet sitting she worked as an independent contractor for the company, but their liability insurance specifically covered her.